You've paid your child support obligations on time every month since you and your ex broke up. However, you lost your job last Monday, and you're not sure where you're going to get the money to make your next payment.
You need a child support modification. Whether it's a temporary modification or a permanent one, it's important that you act quickly and strategically to remain in good standing with the court. Whatever you do, try not to skip a payment. At the very least, pay the most you can afford.
Tips for filing a child support modification
A judge will not readily grant a petition to lower your child support payments, but if your circumstances have changed significantly, the court has the power to ease your financial burden.
Adhering to the following advice can help with this process.
Act fast without delay
The sooner you apply for a modification, the better chance you'll have of not missing a payment. Remember that this debt -- and the late fees associated with it -- will follow you. You can't erase it with bankruptcy. As such, apply for a modification as soon as you experience a significant reduction in your finances.
Negotiate with your ex
Your ex might understand that you're having a difficult time financially and be willing to work with you in lowering the amount you owe each month. However, you must not change your child support payments until a judge approves of this agreement, or you could face serious legal challenges.
Learn about the legal requirements for modification
The key to a successful child support modification petition is the following phrase: "significant change in financial circumstances." However, the word "significant" is subject to interpretation. The more you understand about the law as it applies to these requests, the more capable you'll be of arguing your case.
Pay as much as you can afford
Until you receive your temporary or permanent child support reduction, pay as much as you can. This will show the court that you're trying your best to meet your monthly obligations.
This too shall pass
You'll find financial stability again. However bad your financial situation gets, try to stay calm and don't panic. The age-old maxim "this too shall pass" likely applies to your situation.
Take these practical steps to reduce your child support burden. Then, focus on finding a new job or fixing your financial calamity. Most importantly, take pride in knowing that you're doing the right thing by staying realistic about what you can afford and requesting a modification to keep your good standing with the court.